Even innocent content on smartphones could result in being denied entry.
Dubai: If you plan to travel to abroad soon, be careful what’s on your smartphone or tablet.
In the last three months, 60 students from Saudi Arabia learnt this the hard way when their visas were cancelled on arrival in US airports. Authorities had found suspect content on their mobile devices, Gulf News reported earlier.
With their cultural background and heavy smartphone use, students from Gulf countries could be some of the most likely targets to be pulled aside by border agents. Around 120,000 Saudis are studying on government scholarships in the US and around 2,900 Emirati students study there, according to US figures.
While most people are aware of the risks of having pornographic or violent content on their phones — whether at home or abroad — even religious content could be misinterpreted by airport security agents, Saudi authorities say.
The news comes two weeks after Kuwait’s government advised citizens to make sure their phones contain no material that might be seen as being linked to Islamist militants before travelling to the United States.
This is “so that students and citizens may be spared questioning by authorities in US airports and to avoid any action against them that could result in cancelling their visas and banning them from entering US territories”. said the statement, reported by state news agency KUNA.
In July, three Kuwaiti businessmen were questioned for 21 hours at Los Angeles airport and had their mobile phones inspected before they were denied entry to the US, according to local media.
And it’s not just in the United States where travellers should be careful. In the UK, border police have been authorised to confiscate mobile phones and download the data since at least 2013... Read more...